New “Shared Space Permit” allows restaurants to expand services to sidewalk due to COVID-19

Restaurants are now able to expand their service beyond their walls. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

On Tuesday, August 11, the Birmingham City Council voted to approve a “Shared Spaces Permit” ordinance that will allow restaurants to expand their seating to sidewalks and parking spaces in order to comply with social distancing requirements.

First Practiced in Avondale

Patrons enjoying some delicious food in Avondale during Eat on the Streets. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Birmingham city officials have been working to come up with creative solutions to lessen the economic impact on businesses in the city. Due to social distancing requirements, restaurants were forced to limit the number of customers in their establishment. So, Birmingham decided to get creative—if we can’t fit enough customers inside the walls of the restaurant, why not expand beyond the walls?

The Birmingham City Council approved an “Eat in the Streets” pilot program in Avondale to test the concept, and the results were fantastic. In fact, Bham Now’er Matthew Niblett went out to see the action.

Approved by the Birmingham City Council

Skip to 23:09 to see the Birmingham City Council deliberate and approve the ordinance.

Following the success of Eat in the Streets and the recommendations of Mayor Randall Woodfin, the Public Safety Committee and the Transportation Committee, the Birmingham City Council quorum voted unanimously to approve the Shared Spaces Permit ordinance.

Under the new ordinance, restaurants and bars are able to apply for the Shared Spaces Permit through the City’s Department of Transportation. Then, if approved, the businesses will be allowed to temporarily expand service onto the sidewalk and into parking spaces.

“We want to remain competitive and make sure Birmingham’s amazing restaurant and bar scene has a chance to flourish and survive this public health crisis. We use the term shared space, but really these spaces belong to the taxpayers. I do think our restaurants and culinary scene has brought vibrancy back to downtown and we want to be sure people can safely enjoy a meal with their family and friends while supporting local businesses.”

Hunter Williams, Birmingham City Councilor, District 2

What do you think of the new Shared Spaces Permit? Tag us @bhamnow to let us know!

  • Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.